The change in the tone of Liverpool fans was quite striking.
Before the game, they were ready to rub Manchester City noses in it, to show why they were champions, to round off a remarkable season by playing like champions at the Etihad Stadium.
By the time Raheem Sterling ‘s shot had been deflected into their net for the Blues’ fourth goal, there was a lot of revisionism going on.
All of a sudden, it was all “The game was irrelevant”, “Liverpool were still hung over from their title party a week ago” – some hangover, that – and it was just a “meaningless, minor victory for a team which remains 20 points adrift in the table”.
There was no such rapid change of viewpoint from the Liverpool team, and a clearly angry and irritated Jurgen Klopp afterwards.
They were very much in tune with their fans going into the game – they wanted to show City, and the rest of the world, why they had won the league at a canter.
Jurgen Klopp also made that plain, picking his strongest team and challenging his team to finish the season strongly, snatching away some of City’s league records along the way.
The way his team started showed that they had bought into that. They threatened to overwhelm City, in a way which had become the norm between the two teams in the last two or three seasons.
They WERE playing like champions – strong, fast, forcing errors, hitting the post, placing City under great strain.
But what happened next should be a great encouragement to City, and any other team who fancies a tilt at the title next season.
City weathered that early storm, composed themselves and started playing out of that ferocious Liverpool press.
And once they freed up the space higher up the field, they exploited it to the full and exposed the weaknesses in a much-vaunted Liverpool defence.
In the end, they equalled the heaviest defeat suffered by any team after winning the title – a mark set by Liverpool themselves, when they beat the newly-crowned Arsenal 4-0 at Anfield in 1998.
And they were lucky to escape with four, as City threatened to run riot. Continue reading